Recap: 'The X Factor' - Top 10 Performances Live-Blog
Welcome to Wednesday (November 16) night's live-blog for "The X Factor."
We're about to spend two hours watching performances from this season's Top 10, but is it really necessary? Can't we all just agree that America hates Groups, send Lakoda Rayne packing. Then Paula can head off to spend the rest of her fall some place tropical and L.A. Reid, Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger's Boys, Girls and Over-30s can battle this out.
Let's get to the show...
8:01 p.m. ET Apparently tonight is Rock Night. That would seem to benefit... Nobody?
8:02 p.m. Dang. Check out the "X Factor" Dancers escorting Steve Jones out to the stage.
8:03 p.m. The judges hit the stage to the dulcet tones of "Living on a Prayer." Nicole is convincing as a poseur rocker chick. Paula's just bopping with a "Please Don't Make Me Kill Another Group" shell-shocked smile on her face.
8:05 p.m. We start tonight with one of our Over-30s. Specifically, it's...
LeRoy Bell: I just think LeRoy's a good guy, but L.A. Reid worries that he's boring. Giving him Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" isn't going to help combat Mr. Reid's charges. On Rock Night? Really? I mean, if this were Sleepy Adult Contemporary Night, LeRoy would be knocking this one out of the park. But whatever rock accents this song has occasionally been known to have have been smoothed out entirely. Yes, LeRoy sounds good. Very good, even. But there isn't a spark of life anywhere near this performance. Not an iota. He's chill and soothing on Rock Night. Will L.A. Reid stick to his guns? He'd darn well better. "You look great and you sound great, but you're still not working it like a rock star," L.A. Reid says. Even that's generous. "There's no mistaking that you have a beautiful voice," Paula says, lamenting that people at home may not be making a connection with LeRoy. Simon laments the lack of originality and, like L.A. Reid, he repeats that the prize is $5 million. Simon smartly says that Nicole is mentoring LeRoy like a session singer. Simon adds that for rock week, LeRoy came out like a dolphin, rather than a shark. "I believe in you and I think that tonight is the best that you've ever sung in this competition," Nicole says meaninglessly. "What do you think of these horrible comments?" Steve asks. Simon shouts his host down and tells him to "shut it." But Steve persists, defending LeRoy strongly. Somebody's got a chip on his shoulder about being beaten out for Sexiest Man Alive.
8:16 p.m. Do you think that when Elisabeth Moss did those commercials for Excedrin Migraine she thought they'd still be running all of these years later?
8:17 p.m. Our first of Simon's Girls is...
Rachel Crow: I'm kinda loving the relationship between Rachel and Simon. She's bringing out sides of him that we haven't really seen on these shores. But Nicole is worried that Rachel may be too young. I'm not sure that I would have given Rachel "Satisfaction" for this particular theme. It doesn't seem like a 14-year-old girl song to me and I couldn't begin to tell you what Rachel's putting into the song. It starts off too low and unsurprisingly she doesn't have a clear interpretation of the lyrics. As it progresses and she gets to unleash her blues-y side on the chorus, it improves dramatically. I'm still not sure it's worth the standing ovation the judges give her, but after LeRoy's utter lack of energy, Rachel's irresistible energy is even more galvanizing. L.A. Reid tells Rachel that she could sell records and fill venues, which Rachel already knows. Nicole thinks it was a perfect song choice and she describes it as her favorite performance. Paula loves Rachel, too. Simon can see Rachel winning and he tells her "I like winners."
8:29 p.m. Are they going to save Lakoda Rayne for the end? Because we've got the first of our Boys next...
Chris Rene: I love that L.A. Reid introduced this performance by emphasizing that Bob Marley is in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Thanks! Because otherwise, this would seem like a complete and total cheat of the theme. What's the point of pretending to have a theme? This makes "American Idol" seem dedicated to the fidelity of its theme nights. Chris does a Cali surfer-boy rendition of "No Woman, No Cry." I'm sorry, but if Chris Rene can't find a way to sell lyrics like "Good friends we've had and good friends we've lost along the way" with any emotion at all, what's the point? Sometimes I buy Chris' authenticity, but this was totally faux in every way, neither the rapping nor the singing has any passion to it. This is a drunk frat boy yelling along to Bob Marley. Blech. "That was very original," Nicole says stupidly, before telling him that even though she loved it, she didn't love it. Paula knows this was a cheat of the theme. "It doesn't matter if you're the best vocalist. I buy into you," Paula says. "It would have been great if the theme this week had been Reggae Music," Simon complains. "What's the point of having a theme if you're just going to totally disregard it," Simon complains. "Let's do Hip-Hop Week and see how Drew does," L.A. Reid shoots back.
Stacy Francis: Really, Nicole? A Meatloaf song? Really, Nicole? You're telling Stacy that you have the same background she does? Why was their not a kickass Tina Turner song that Stacy could have performed tonight? L.A. Reid hopes that Stacy doesn't pander. Perhaps she's not pandering, but Stacy's also not singing any of the notes tonight. This is brutal. She's singing out of her nose, which has never been a problem before and nearly everything is off. I'm not going to criticize anymore, because that one glove Stacy's wearing makes me surmise that she's about to commit murder. Wow. It just gets worse. Are we going to get an explanation for what happened? Even Stacy knows that was awful. "You really sang that song well," L.A. Reid says confusingly. Even Paula says this was the worst of Stacy's performances. "Your pitch was under," Paula says. Then Nicole throws Stacy under the bus and says this was all Stacy's idea. "I wanted rock, that was a pebble," Simon says. Simon's got a lot of hostility. Nicole tries saving the day by saying that Stacy's performance was "glam rock." No. No it was not. Seriously, even Nicole knows that was dreadful. So what the heck was L.A. Reid talking about? That was the season's worst performance by a wide margin.
Melanie Amaro: Simon is careful to emphasize that Melanie is singing an REM song and that they're actually a rock band. And yet Simon's also saying that this is going to be a stripped down production, which makes L.A. Reid sarcastic. Simon's idea of "stripped down" involves a lot of fog and having Melanie made up like a cabaret singer. I guess "Everybody Hurts" works as a rock song, at least when compared to most of what we've seen tonight. I'm not sure it's the raw and revealing performance that we were promised, but after Stacy Francis' total ineptitude, Melanie's extremely elevated competence is a wonder to behold. Is this different from anything we've seen from Melanie? No. Not at all. Is what Melanie does every week worthy of respect and adoration? Yes. "That was so not rock," L.A. Reid says. "You sounded beautiful," Nicole says, as the fog curls around her. Nicole wanted to cry. "Melanie, you took us to church," Paula adds, but she still wants to see Melanie let go. It reminded Simon of Adele and Alicia Keys. "Call up REM and tell them they're not a rock band," Simon tells the still skeptical L.A. Reid.
9:03 p.m. Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for...
Burrito Josh: If anybody seems designed to shine with this theme, it's Burrito Josh. Foo Fighters seems like an interesting choice... I hope he pulls it off... I would not have predicted "The Pretender" would be the likely choice even on the Foo Fighters tip. But good gracious... It's actually a rock performance. I'm not sure Nicole has any clue what her singers sound like. Because this song is way, way, way too low for Josh until it gets to the chorus. I can't help but think that there were hundreds of rock songs that might have given Josh the room to shine from start to finish rather than just in isolated moments. And yet I can't help but be happy, because it took 70 minutes, but somebody actually honored the theme. Thank you, Burrito Josh. "You're the only person who's really rocked this house tonight," L.A. Reid admits. Paula calls it the night's best performance. Simon calls it "bloody fantastic." Nicole was in a rock band way back and she calls Josh "the ultimate rock star."
Astro: Can we get a little "Walk this Way," maybe? Poor Astro. He misses his mom's cooking. Hmmm... Astro's doing "Every Breath You Take," which is confusing, because he's really doing Puffy's "I'll Be Missing You," so the degree to which he's doing a "rock" song is nil. Apparently it's a tribute to hip-hop and Jam Master Jay and possibly other people (they didn't show the screens enough). It's another assured performance from Astro, but once again Astro isn't on the same show as the other contestants are. You really can't judge him, because he's on his own parallel track. Nicole thinks Astro's worthy of $5 million. Paula thinks Astro is incapable of sucking. Simon tells Astro that he has a shot at winning. L.A. Reid says Astro has what it takes to be a major international star. Astro then wins votes by wishing his sister a happy birthday and recognizing Stereo Hogzz in the audience.
9:24 p.m. Remember, kids. Next week's "X Factor" episodes air on Tuesday and Wednesday. I won't forget. Meanwhile, time for our last Group...
Lakoda Rayne: Hayley! That's the name of other member of Lakoda Rayne who I like. Hayley and Dani. They're the ones I like. And they're rockin' The Outfield on a little "Your Love," mashed up with a little Fleetwood Mac. It's typically frantic Lakoda Rayne, making them seem much more like for competing individuals than like a group. Tonight's performance is like a Battle Round performance on "The Voice," as if only one of them is going to survive the experience. And yet thanks to Stacy Francis, they're far from the night's worst performers. This is the first time L.A. Reid has seen them have fun, but he sounds less convinced that they have what it takes to be superstars. Nicole was happy with their "edge" and their "rawness." Nicole urges them to let go a little more. Simon thought it was "a complete mess." Simon also wasn't happy with "the ridiculous dancers" and L.A. Reid has to tell Simon not to be mean. Paula says that the girls have earned their place.
9:34 p.m. Wait. We've got 25 minutes remaining for TWO performers? This was not a well structured show, was it?
9:37 p.m. Ah. Let's kill time by discussing Simon's supremacy on Twitter. Simon joined Twitter tonight. He also has our next performer...
Drew: Last week, L.A. Reid was mean to Drew. And Paula was mean to Drew. Everybody was mean to Drew. Apparently this was the first time in Drew's life that anybody has ever criticized her. No. Really. Simon vows that we're going to see a different Drew this week, but will we really? No. No we will not. This is a Drew version of "With or Without You." You know what I want? I wanna see Drew and Astro team up on a modified version of "Stan." Can we make that happen? Anyway, this is exactly what you assume it will be. And I don't mean that as an insult. Drew has a beautiful voice and she packs an astounding amount of emotion into each near-yodel. I think this is, in fact, maybe the best version of a Drew song that we've heard so far from Drew. But it's ever-so-predictable. L.A. Reid thinks Drew has an original and special voice and he loves her. "I'm trying to keep my base on the genre I want to be," Drew explains. Nicole was waiting for the tempo to pick up. "I'm a little frustrated actually," Nicole says. Paula reassures Drew that she has a big fanbase and advises her to take advantage of that fanbase by showing more diversity. "Take no notice from the three witches on my right-hand side," Simon says.
9:50 p.m. That means that our final performer must be...
Marcus Canty: L.A. Reid is giving Marcus Canty a Janis Joplin track? This could be... interesting? "Piece of My Heart"... Interesting. I'm particularly interested in the leather-clad dancers and the things Marcus Canty is willing to do without sacrificing his moral fiber. Skittering between their splayed legs? Totally moral. I don't know if I'm getting "rock" from Marcus, but I'm definitely getting "performer." And I'm getting that Marcus is actually an artist willing to try different things on this show. As such? That was entertaining. It didn't blow me away, but it also didn't bore me for a second. "You lit that stage on fire," Nicole says, also using her word of the night, which is "raw." Paula calls him "the entertainer of this competition." Simon didn't think the song suited Marcus, that it felt like he was pretending. "You rocked," L.A. Reid tells Marcus.
Tonight's Best: It was a really weird and uneven night. Astro may have been the night's best, but he wasn't the best performer within Rock Night. Burrito Josh was good. Drew and Melanie did their things. Marcus was fun.
Tonight's Worst: Lakoda Rayne wasn't good, but Stacy Francis was in a different league of awfulness. I'm guessing Stacy and LeRoy for the Bottom Two, but I've guessed LeRoy for the Bottom each week and it hasn't happened...
Who did you like? Who did you hate?
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Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
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Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
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Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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